Seems like I should leave a warning before I spiral off into something more personal, which I usually just avoid doing, but the part below isn’t a comfortable subject for lots of people, so feel free to skip down to the perfume review of Cartier Les Heures below it.
This last weekend I went through hospice training. I have another session this weekend for 11th Hour training, which is to train people to be at the bedside of someone who is actively, imminently dying so they don’t have to be alone – because they don’t have anyone or their family member just needs a break.
For all of my life, if someone had asked me what volunteer activity I would be most likely to do, working in hospice would have been last on the list. I’m not sure when that changed – that I lost most of my fear of death or else just overcame my aversion to the subject or just felt more comfortable with my mortality.
I think it was after my dad died. We all knew he didn’t want to check out in a hospital or wind up in a nursing home, so the DNR was signed without anyone really talking about it. And then he got to come home, but got sick a day later and was actively dying, but he was taken back over to the hospital — I’m not sure why? Because that’s what we thought we were supposed to do. We didn’t want him to die, so we just wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t talk, and we never asked him how he wanted to finish unwinding from his body and where. I know he wanted, without him saying it, to check out at home, quietly, with the people he loved. Instead, he wound up back in the hospital. Nobody really told us that he was actively dying, we all just thought he was sick. All of us living hours away from home stayed put. My mom was with him, but got the flu and had to go home, and he died early that next morning before anyone could get back over. It happened 13 years ago, but it still haunts me that he didn’t check out the way I know he wanted to go, and not one one of us was sitting by his bed holding his hand to tell him goodbye and thanks for sharing his huge, sometimes infuriating, wonderful life with us when he took his last breath.
Well, that’s how I got to hospice. They do amazing work in helping people go the way they want and giving the families support and help in honoring those wishes. But that’s not why I’m writing about this, it’s just an explanation because we all have a story for why we wind up where we do. During the training, we did an exercise where we had to envision that we were unwinding from life, we were sitting in the chair beside our bed for probably the last time, we knew we probably wouldn’t have the strength to do it again, and we wanted to write one last letter.
So we all wrote our letter, with lots of sniffling and sobbing and tears. What I found in writing my letter is what most of us would expect. First, I couldn’t write a letter to my kids in that setting because I was not prepared to sob that much in public. But I made a note to myself that I want to write those letters in my own time so they will have them forever. My letter didn’t mention things I had or things I had done, places I had gone, work successes. It was about how much fun my life had been and thanking all the people in my life for sharing their lives, joys and sorrows with me – that it had given all the color and meaning to my life.
But in the midst of all of that emotion while writing that letter, I could smell my life. Those feelings took on smell and shape. I’ve always known that smell is the direct conduit to emotion and memory, but I didn’t know it could work the other way, memory and emotion would bring up smell in my head.
What in the world does all of this have to do with Cartier Les Heures? Not that much directly, but, hey, it’s my blog, I write about what I want to. Partly it is a thought I pass along to treasure the people in your life, for good or ill. It is what you will remember at the end and what brings meaning to the tolling of your days. Make your end of life wishes completely clear to those close to you now, sign a Medical Durable Power of Attorney for someone you trust to make those decisions for you if you can’t. If someone you know is terminal, or they have a terminal family member, don’t avoid them because you don’t know what to say or do – the absolute worst thing that will happen is they will cry or sob around you, and it may make you sob or cry, or you may not know how to comfort them, and you may feel really uncomfortable but, you know? It doesn’t matter. All of us will be experts on loss before we get to the end. Dying can be incredibly isolating and lonely, and there is no wrong thing to say – your presence makes your silence or stumbling absolutely fine.
Okay, end of the PSA portion of this post.
The concept of Cartier Les Heures makes me think of the smell stages of my life – whether that is style or taste or simply my age and emotional makeup at the time. When you start sniffing them, you can keep drawing those same comparisons of time passing, but that the scent you have passed through will always remain a part of you, even if it’s just the memory in your head.
Cartier Les Heures X Folle has notes of red currant, pink pepper, grenadine, blueberry, black currant, ivy, violet, boxwood, shiso and aldehydes. When I read that list of notes, I thought, Cartier? Seriously? Fruity ivy and trees? This is for “The Mad Hour.”
Before I go on, Denyse did a whole series of posts on these fragrances and an interview with Mathilde Laurent, who created them, and you really should go read the whole thing. Very instructive.
This really is the whole fruit experience with joy and zest. I’d think of this as my late teens and early 20s perfume. Not that I wouldn’t wear it now, but that is the period of my life that this encompasses – mad, irrational, joyous, thoughtless sometimes, illogical, sweet, naive, innocent. It’s absolutely fruity, but not in that sweet, killmenow way, though it certainly does not avoid the inherent sweetness that you do get with fruit. It just brings along the rest of the fruit bouquet to keep it from being linear. It’s easy to love, and it completely fits the description, The Mad Hour. At the end, it rest in a soft bed of mad green sweetness that lets you recall how it all began, but leaves you separate and beyond that time.
Cartier Les Heures XII, Les Mysterieuse, is going to be the runaway bestseller from this fragrance collection. Patchouli, juniper, coriander, jasmine, elemi, nutmeg, incense. This is the mysterious hour. All the material says XII, the 12th hour, but the bottle I have says IIX, the 8th hour. I think it would be the 12th hour, it smells like that mystical period in your life when you come closer to the end. The contemplative scent that is full of comfort, but it won’t sit easy all the time. The patchouli starts big, softens, letting all of that gorgeous incense roll in, but the patchouli continuously stirs up the other notes and makes them fuller, richer, bigger because they are infused with life. This is a beautiful, warm woody incense.